Sunday, August 31, 2014

Let's Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

So I am a huge fan of Marvel Cosmic, which is Marvel's line of Sci-Fi based comic books. Jim Starlin is one of my all time favorite comic book authors and he basically invented most of it. I’m also a huge fan of the modern revitalization Marvel Cosmic got with Andy Lanning and Dan Abnett a few years ago. I also know that Marvel Cosmic doesn’t have as big of a fan base as some of Marvel’s other characters or storylines. So when I heard that Guardians of the Galaxy was being made into a movie, it was like a dream come true. I never thought that Marvel would ever make a film out of this obscure cast of characters that I loved. I was literally counting the days before I could see it. So did it live up to my excitement? Let’s review Guardians of the Galaxy.

The Negative

I had a really hard time liking this film. So much so that I decided to go see it a second time so that I could give it a fair review. I have been a huge fan of Marvel Cosmic for many years now, the amount of things they changed from the source material made it barely recognizable. A good example would be if Marvel released a film about a beetle themed superhero that fights zombie Nazis in Texas, and called it a film about Spider-Man. If this were a Harry Potter film, the fans would have been outraged over the amount of changes made; they probably would have called for blood.

The problem I face is the fact that no one really complained. There aren’t really huge numbers of fans for these characters. They don’t realize the amount of well established history that was changed. So when I hear people debating on whether or not Guardians was better than the Avengers, I recoil a little. Avengers pretty much nailed the adaptation whereas Guardians largely ignored it. This was the reason I had to see it twice as a critic I have to be unbiased towards these things and judge the film as it is, but as a fan I was a little heartbroken. This wasn’t a film made for me, this was a film that is going to spark interest in a relatively obscure group of characters and get a larger fan base. Sure it will be confusing for those who only know about the film history, but overall it will ensure that Marvel Cosmic stays for quite some time.

The Positive

What made me want to give the film a second chance was that about ¾ of the way through the film, I realized what I was watching was actually quite good. Despite being a poor adaptation, the film itself isn’t bad. The film is funny; in fact I would say the film is very funny. It has been a really long time since I have laughed this hard at a film. A lot of the humor is stuff you really wouldn’t expect Marvel to go, but ultimately it was this dark sense of humor that really endeared me to the film, even during my first viewing when I was unhappy due to the changes.

The film does an excellent job of balancing out its team members. Something that both Avengers and some of the X-Men films failed at was balancing out the screen time so that we got to know each of the team members really well. Marvel fixed that issue by having the major Avengers members appear in their own separate movies first so that we would already know the characters before they appeared together. Guardians rather impressively introduces the audience to all 5 members of the team and makes each of their personalities and quirks well known, even taking the time to show how each member interacts with one another.

The soundtrack was absolutely glorious in this movie. It’s no wonder many of these songs are hitting the number 1 charts for the first time in years because Guardians uses its mostly 70’s soundtrack to full extent, utilizing each song to establish the tone of each scene. In particular, Guardians’ use of Redbone’s “Come and Get Your Love” during the opening credits is probably one of the best tone establishers I have seen in a really long time instantly telling the audience that you are in for a really fun ride.

In Conclusion                 

I don’t think I’m the right person to discuss this film in a good light. I really enjoyed this film and had a wonderful time with it, but ultimately it was the vast changes made to the source material that really stopped me from loving this film as much as I should have. My personal fan feelings aside, I do highly recommend this film to everyone. If you are looking for a really fun comedy sci-fi adventure this is absolutely the film to see. 4.7 out of 5.

Let's Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Captain America: The First Avenger was a very unexpected hit with me. I wasn’t really sure what to expect with the film and I didn’t have much faith in Chris Evans in the role. The film took me completely by surprised and has become one of my all time favorite comic book movies. That said; I was expecting great things to come out of the sequel. Were my expectations met? Let’s review Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

The Negative

The acting between Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson was a little stiff. We follow Captain America and Black Widow for the majority of the film, with their interactions with one another filling in any slow section. This is a problem because most of their dialogue with one another feels flat. This is easily explained away by the fact that the two of them are high-level secret agents and being un-emotional is key in the field. I get entirely what the film was going for; I just wish the two could emote a bit more than the film would allow them.

The biggest question that keeps flashing in my mind regarding this film is where is Hawkeye? The plot of this film has major ramifications to the SHIELD organization and with Hawkeye being a top agent; you would think that he would appear in this movie. There isn’t even much of a mention as to what he is doing during the events of this film. For the Avenger who has gotten the least amount of screen time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe you would think that this would have been their big opportunity to expand him a little. I do understand why they didn’t include him though. The amount of important super heroes in this film was starting to border The Avengers. If Hawkeye were in this film he probably would have gotten even less screen time than before. It just seems odd that with SHIELD being so important to his character, that he wouldn’t even get a passing mention to his current status.

The Positive

The plot was amazing. This film takes all of the covert splendor of a James Bond movie but does it with the amazing world of super heroes.  The film does an excellent job with pulling off its various plot twist with Cap finding himself in a world of espionage and uncertainty in who his allies are. If you are a fan of James Bond, I highly recommend you see this film. This was also an excellent film for Captain America fans as this movie crammed so much Cap lore that it almost had a blink and you’ll miss it quality to it.

The fight scenes were absolutely spectacular in this film, particularly the fight scenes between Cap and Winter Soldier. The fights between these two figures are fast and tight, showing off the ferocity two super soldiers can have in combat against one another. The scene that keeps coming back to my mind is a road fight between the two of them. The fight is claustrophobic with Winter Soldier relentless attacking with a knife with Cap barely dodging each blow. It was fight choreography like this that kept me on the edge of my seat in breathless excitement.

The villains were absolutely exquisite in this movie. As I stated before, the film’s plot is a massive mystery with Cap slowly uncovering who he can trust and who he can’t, so I’m not going to give all the villains away. That said spoiler ahead, skip to the conclusion if you don’t want a major plot twist spoiled…


We all set? Okay, so Arnim Zola is one of my all time favorite Captain America villains. It was cool to see him as a human in the first film but what I was really looking forward to was seeing him as a robot and this film totally delivered on that front. Zola was perfect and even better they made him one of the central plot twists to the film. This was my absolute favorite scene in the movie as Cap slowly comes to realize that in his 70 year absence the world has been slowly taken over by Hydra forces, with Zola being the starting point behind that front.
In Conclusion

This film quickly became one of my all time favorites in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This was definitely Marvel trying their hand at producing a James Bond film and they succeeded magnificently at it. The plot, the mystery, the villains, as well as the simply massive amount of Cap lore stuffed into this film was a brilliant love letter to one of Marvel’s oldest characters. This film has gotten me even more excited for the next Captain America film; I just hope it can live up to the first two films. 4.9 out of 5.

Let's Review: Godzilla

I love Godzilla. To be honest I love giant monster movies in general. It has been an extremely long wait to see the king of all monsters back on the big screen. Everything I saw for this film had me pumped to go see it. Godzilla was finally coming back and it was going to be done right. So did the film live up to my excitement? Let’s review Godzilla.
The Negative

Bryan Cranston is wasted in this film. I hope nobody went into this film expecting him to be the main character, because he is honestly barely in the film at all. The film makes you very invested into his character at the very beginning of the film and he sticks around for a little bit after that, but he is mostly just dropped from the film. The real main character of the film is Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s character, Ford Brody. While Ford is an interesting character, he just doesn’t carry the same investment that we had with Cranston’s character and it sort of brings the whole movie down another level.

I’m sure you know by now that Godzilla faces another monster in the film named MUTO.  In the film we see two very different MUTOs, one male and one female. I really want to praise the fact that the two MUTOs are designed differently. The male is smaller and has the ability to fly, while the female is larger with multiple arms. They could have just as easily made two of the same monster but they made them both unique and I really appreciated that. With that said I really didn’t like their overall design. The Godzilla series is well known for its bizarre and uniquely designed monsters, but something just doesn’t seem to work for the MUTOs’ design. For me personally, I think their design is just too angular. Nothing about them seems overly organic at all, and it sort of ruins the illusion that what you are looking at is a living, breathing monster. For a giant monster film, that is one of the greatest failings.

I go to a Godzilla movie for the very reason that I want to see Godzilla. I hope you are really patient folks, because Godzilla doesn’t really show up until the end of the film, and then he is only on the screen for about the same amount of time that Bryan Cranston is. I can honestly say that I left the theater disappointed. The very first fight scene between Godzilla and MUTO is BRIEFLY shown on a small news television screen. Every single fight in the film is shown in quick claustrophobic shots from the human’s perspective. The fight that we see the most of is at the end of the film and it is so brief I wanted to cry. I have waited 10 years to see Godzilla return to the big screen, and what I got was barely any of him.

The Positive

As you can imagine from that last paragraph, the majority of the film is taken from the human perspective. It is my opinion that in most Godzilla films, the most boring aspect is the human’s story. Lucky for us, the human story in this film is actually quite captivating. You do find yourself being invested into these characters and you genuinely want to find out what happens to them by the end of the film. While I was hard on Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s character earlier, I was just saying that he wasn’t as captivating as Bryan Cranston’s character, but that doesn’t mean he is bad, far from it. The rest of the cast varies in quality, but Ken Watanabe plays a fantastically stoic Dr. Serizawa.

While the monster fights were incredibly brief, what I did get to see wasn’t lackluster in the slightest. It was like the film kept giving me little teasers of the amazing fight that I wanted to see break out and when the ultimate showdown finally did happen at the end of the film, it was glorious. I found myself getting back into my old Godzilla fan boy mode, cheering him on to beat down the other monster. I wasn’t the only one either, many times during the fight the audience broke out in applause at successful hits.

Godzilla himself was stunning. He had a massive presence on the screen. This film returned Godzilla to a role that he hasn’t been in for a very long time, the role of protector. Throughout the film Godzilla goes out of his way to avoid mindless destruction and has his sights solely on destroying the two MUTOs. By the end of the film, Godzilla is cheered by humanity for being a hero who has protected us from utter annihilation. It was really nice to see Godzilla return as a hero again. I think we have all been a little tired of seeing Godzilla fight the military over and over again in each of his films. This was a very welcomed change of pace.

In Conclusion

I had a good time. I went to see a Godzilla film and I left feeling extremely disappointed due to the lack of Godzilla being actually in the film, but was my time wasted? The answer is no, this was a very fun action flick that had a brilliant mood to it. I recommend you go see it for a good popcorn flick. I will admit that my disappointment is still very present with me. I worry that as we bring Godzilla into the age of CGI, we leave behind the ability to have him and his fellow monsters on the screen longer. I can only hope that with future sequels, we end up getting more screen time with the King of the Monsters. 3.8 out of 5.